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Jennifer Beals: I knew I was 'different'

Jennifer Beals, a cast member in the post-apocalyptic motion picture The Book of Eli, attends the premiere of the film at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles on January 11, 2010. UPI/Jim Ruymen
Jennifer Beals, a cast member in the post-apocalyptic motion picture "The Book of Eli", attends the premiere of the film at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles on January 11, 2010. UPI/Jim Ruymen | License Photo

CHICAGO, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Chicago-born Jennifer Beals, best known for her role in the movie "Flashdance," is a private person who says she knew she was "different" growing up.

In an interview, Beals told the Chicago Sun-Times she was "acutely aware that I was different."

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As the light-skinned daughter of a black father and a Caucasian mother, Beals said at times she endured taunts of "whitey" in Chatham, a predominately African-American Chicago neighborhood.

"It was very odd to have somebody who was white coming into the South Side neighborhood," Beals said of growing up there in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Beals detailed her thinking about her racial identity during a 2004 award acceptance speech in Los Angeles.

"As I got a little older, and I was more aware of television and magazines, I searched for images of girls that looked like me," Beals said. "As a biracial girl growing up in Chicago, there wasn't a lot there, positive or otherwise. I mean, I had Spock. And that was kind of it. And I think my theme song was Cher's 'Half-Breed.'"

Beals, 47, has spent six seasons as the lesbian art curator Bette Porter on Showtime's hit show "The L Word." She recently spent 100 days shooting scenes for "The Chicago Code."

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The political/cop drama premieres Feb. 7 on Fox and features Beals as Chicago's first female chief of police.

Beals earned $500,000 for her role in "Flashdance," and said she almost turned the role down because she'd just started attending college at Yale.

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